Radiohead threw the music industry a curveball when, in 2007, the band released its album “In Rainbows” using a pay-what-you-want model. Permitting fans to potentially walk away with the album for free wouldn’t normally be a sound idea. But, for a band that has since sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and has won five Grammy Awards, there wasn’t much risk involved. Ultimately, Radiohead would make its money back, and then some.
Everyone Everywhere, the Philadelphia-based indie-rock four-piece, has used a similar model since 2008, allowing fans at concerts to pay what they want for CDs and other merchandise. Last year, the band held an online presale for 100 vinyl copies of its second eponymous album on a pay-what-you-want model. Within 20 minutes, they broke even, selling all 100 copies.
In a time when illegal downloading is the norm, and bands are seeking creative ways to distribute music (and ideally break even), it’s a fascinating approach. “We wouldn’t care if we’d lost money,” says bassist Matt Scottoline, 26. “We know it’s not a money-making enterprise to be in an indie band. We just want people to hear our music. We worked really hard on this album, but it’s more gratifying for us for people to hear it, even if they only pay 50 cents. None of us expect to ever quit our day jobs.”